Spiced Nuts: The Perfect Last-Minute Holiday Gift
You can’t go wrong with gifting homemade spiced nuts — a welcome, healthy alternative to all those holiday baked goods and the gift everyone is happy to get.
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If you’re an unrepentant procrastinator like me — missing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and even the Amazon “deliver by Christmas” cut-off date — don’t stress; simply craft your own presents. Lovingly made gifts read “thoughtful” even though they can be whipped up at the last minute.
And these spiced nuts are super quick and easy to make, with minimal prep time. Afterward, they can be packed up in an airtight container with a huge bow to present to the giftee. Pair the homemade spiced nuts with a bottle of sparkling cider or eggnog for an ooh-inspiring porch drop-off gift or create a gourmet food basket by tucking it in with cheese, crackers, and wine/craft beer.
But the best thing about spiced nuts for the holidays is that they are chock full of healthy fats and are a tasty, gluten-free alternative to all those holiday baked goods. Some spiced nut recipes are even low in carbohydrates and won’t ruin a keto diet.
Just be sure to make enough for yourself, too. Because once you start taste-testing these, you won’t be able to stop snacking. I speak from experience.
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The nutty basics
Commonly asked questions about spiced nuts, answered right here.
What nuts are in holiday mixed nuts?
Any raw nut you love can be used in a holiday mixed nuts recipe: pistachios, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, even some seeds. But the “mixed nuts” most recipes ask for are usually comprised of almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts, hazelnuts, and cashews.
How do you make spiced nuts?
This is more of an oven endeavor than a stovetop production. You mix the variety of nuts, usually already roasted, with either egg whites, olive oil or melted butter, and spices and/or herbs in a bowl, and then bake them in the oven. Some mixed nuts recipes call for sugar but others are sugar-free, either because they use sugar alternatives or they stick to only spices.
How long can you store spiced nuts?
Around the holidays, spiced nuts usually disappear as soon as they’re set out. But mixed nuts stored in an airtight container can last anywhere from two weeks to two months at room temperature, depending on the ingredients and recipe, and even longer when stored in the freezer.
What spices go in spiced nuts?
Basic spiced nuts are generally seasoned with a spice mixture of ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cumin, allspice, black pepper, and salt.
Food lovers' spiced nuts
Fans of cooking shows, celebrity chefs, and famous eateries will go nuts (sorry!) for these pedigreed mixed nuts recipes.
Celeb chef, cookbook author, and restaurateur Giada de Laurentiis inspired this sweet and salty concoction that features crispy, heavenly Applewood smoked bacon pieces. It's the ideal snack to pair with beer.
Instead of chili powder, celeb chef/cookbook author Ina Garten uses ground chipotle chili powder, which creates heat with depths of smoky and sweet. These would be a hit as an appetizer to get everyone salivating.
Not every home chef has turbinado sugar on hand. Fortunately, this adaptation of Gramercy Tavern owner Danny Meyer’s beloved bar nuts recipe takes that into account, making it easy to do in your kitchen.
For this version of a different Danny Meyer bar nuts recipe, pretzel nuggets have been added in for another scrumptious layer of crunch. If you manage to have any left over, they can keep for several weeks in airtight jars.
Holiday spiced nuts
These truly festive spiced nuts showcase the flavors you love about this season such as gingerbread and mulling spices.
The vanilla in these spiced nuts makes them the perfect comforting addition to a Christmas care package or snack for a cozy holiday night in with Irish coffee or hot chocolate. Bonus is that the total time to make these is only 30 minutes!
For this recipe, you’ll need a spice grinder to grind up the mulling spices and a cinnamon stick into a coarse powder. It takes some doing, but it’s worth the effort. Roast up these Christmas spiced nuts as the perfect complement your mulled wine.
The fresh rosemary and thyme not only flavor these spiced nuts with a beautiful earthiness, but, while roasting in the oven, they give off a mouth-watering scent that you’ll wish you could bottle. When you gift them, use a glass container to help showcase the cheery green herbs.
Sate your holiday gingerbread cookie cravings with this lower-calorie alternative (290 calories). It can be made last minute or, if you’re a planner, up to five days in advance. Just store them in an airtight container. Paleo dieters will appreciate that they use coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar.
Chocolate spiced nuts
For some decadence with your spiced nuts, indulge in these recipes whose chocolate levels range from simple chocolate chips to deeply rich cocoa espresso.
The warm chocolate notes are made all the more interesting when spiced with Madras curry, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom. Just make sure the nuts are completely cool before adding the chocolate chips!
That's right, a spiced nuts recipe that uses that beloved kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot. And even though the nuts are coated with dark chocolate and then dusted with cocoa, they're only sweetened with a half cup of maple syrup or raw honey.
Thanks to the hit of espresso powder, these would make for a lovely after-dinner snack to enjoy with a stirred whiskey cocktail or bourbon straight up.
Bacon spiced nuts
Homemade spiced nuts are already so addictive. Seriously, try stopping after one handful. But if you want to make them even more irresistible, just add bacon.
This treat has been unfairly labeled “man candy” because it assumes only men are obsessed with candied bacon, but we all know that’s not true. And adding bacon to nuts spiced with pumpkin pie spice, paprika, and cayenne pepper makes for a sinful treat that all will enjoy. Just make sure to line the baking sheet with parchment paper or else the melted sugar will cement itself in place.
You make your own maple-glazed bacon for this recipe: Brush bacon slices with maple syrup, arrange them in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet, and bake them for 20 minutes. Simple! The introduction of this delectable ingredient increases the nuts’ addictive factor, and in fact, the recipe description suggests doubling or even tripling the amount just to be safe.
This recipe makes enough for a large bowl. But if you can't mow through it in one sitting, this spicy-sweet mixture of bacon, dried apples, and nuts will keep for a few days at room temperature. Its flavors are even said to improve after a day or two.
Spicy spiced nuts
For those unafraid of heat, try out these super-spicy mixed nuts recipes. The fresh ginger, cayenne, crushed red pepper, chili powder, or ghost pepper will set your mouth and your heart aflame.
These feisty spiced nuts will warm you up instantly with their generous coating of cinnamon, sugar, cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Make enough to gift, but be sure to keep some around for yourself; they are delicious sprinkled atop a dinner salad.
Can’t go wrong with a classic like celebrity chef Martha Stewart and her spiced nuts recipe, which has evolved into a holiday tradition for many, especially spice lovers. These babies contain nearly two ounces of cayenne pepper as well as some chili powder, too.
If you or the one you love is a spicy-foods fiend, this is the spiced nuts recipe you’ve been looking for. In addition to the usual spice mix, you also throw in chili powder, either your own special blend or store-bought. This is where you can drop in some ghost pepper for extra heat. And if you still want more heat, you maniac, include a couple of tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce.
This recipe incorporates Northern Indian spice blend garam masala, making for earthy and warmly flavored spiced nuts. To turn up the heat, leave out the ginger and add a tablespoon of chili powder and another teaspoon of cumin. Amazingly, these mixed nuts are only 15 calories thanks to being sugar-free and including only a tablespoon of unsalted butter.
Healthy spiced nuts
Since the holiday season and all its baked goods, sumptuous holiday dinners, and alcohol can be tough for those on diets — be it sugar-free, paleo, or keto — healthy options are always welcomed.
If you love all things pumpkin spice, try out this healthy pick-me-up. It’s sweetened with coconut palm sugar, which doesn’t spike your blood glucose and insulin like granulated sugar does, and the recipe offers substitutions for vegans as well as those allergic to nuts.
Unlike most of its kind, these nuts are savory instead of sweet. Yup, no sweeteners here at all. Its spice mix is composed of a half teaspoon ground cumin, paprika, curry powder, and sea salt as well as a quarter teaspoon garlic powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, grounded ginger, and ground cinnamon. Coconut, peanut, or olive oil is used instead of butter to coat the nuts.
This is your healthy alternative to chocolate-coated nuts. Rather than being candy-like and super sweet, this recipe’s coating is bittersweet “with hints of caramelized cacao bean.” And the light sweetness is thanks to the date sugar (finely ground dried dates), whose benefits include fiber and low glycemic index energy.
More edible gifts
In addition to gifting spiced nuts, check out these related Yummly articles for more edible gift ideas: